BY ‘SEGUN ODEJIMI
This was the question that followed me home last night from the second edition of Genesis Deluxe Cinema‘s long overdue initiative, Nolly Thursdays, geared at celebrating Nollywood films, actors and filmmakers.
The first edition of Nolly Thursdays last week hosted Rita Dominic and since her latest effort, both as an actor and a producer, had just debuted in the cinemas, it was only natural that Suru L’ere would be the film showcased. Rita is a natural crowd puller. That plus the fact that she had the whole weight of Mildred Okwo behind her, it wasn’t surprising that several Nollywood faces turned up at the event, even though it was more of an Audrey Silva clan turn up. You can count on one finger how many stars outside of that group actually attended. This was the first edition and the not-so-massive turnout, depending on what side of the argument you are, can be excused.
Don’t forget that Nolly Thursdays is well supported by the Africa International Film Festival (AFRIFF), a festival that is supposed to be one of the biggests in Africa and by far the biggest in Nigeria.
So, you should probably understand my disappointment after seeing the industry turnout last night at the celebration of one of the most iconic filmmakers to come out of Africa, Tunde Kelani. It was just not good. I mean, this is a man that has inspired many filmmakers in Nigeria and beyond. The hall where we gathered to watch one of his classics, Thunderbolt (Magun), was not even anywhere close to being filled up. The large chunk of those in attendance were fans of TK.
TK is 68 today and I hear some of his friends are throwing a big party for him. Well, we’re Nigerians and that’s exactly what we love – parties. But in my opinion, no amount of parties will make up for the pain I felt in my heart yesterday at The Palms, Lekki. Imagine an American cinema chain backed by a film festival deciding to host Steven Spielberg and screen one of his evergreen movies on the eve of his birthday. Imagine what the industry turnout would be like.
Those of us in Nollywood complain that the society does not celebrate us enough. The recent deaths in the industry has further amplified that sentiment. But do Nollywood people celebrate one another enough? The industry needs to send out a strong message and avenues such as Nolly Thursdays is one tool with which to do so.
It is only fair, however, that part of the blame goes to the organizers. GDC and AFRIFF can also do with even more publicity. I personally get emails from AFRIFF and I know many others do too. But there needs to be an aggressive social media awareness. If this is going to be the new Nollywood industry night, it should grab that spot 100%.
It won’t do so with turnouts like last night’s.